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The National Education Union (NEU) has called an 'emergency meeting' to be held today (2 January) to discuss the 'chaos engulfing our schools'.
Dr Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the NEU, said in a statement on Wednesday (30 December): "We are astonished at today's announcement by Gavin Williamson.
"With warnings from eminent scientists of an 'imminent catastrophe' unless the whole of the UK is locked down, and with more cases in hospitals than ever before and our NHS facing an enormous crisis the Secretary of State is sending the majority of primary pupils and staff back on Monday to working environments which aren't Covid secure."
Dr Bousted told the Guardian: "If you allow the conditions to get so bad in the end you'll be closing schools for longer.
The pandemic is worsening hour by hour. @NEUnion has called an emergency executive meeting tomorrow. We will then issue new, urgent advice regarding the proposed opening of primary schools on 4 Jan. These developments will affect those returning to work on Monday #MakeSchoolsSafe pic.twitter.com/WWLN961VsA
- National Education Union (@NEUnion) January 1, 2021
"What the government should be doing is what the governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are doing. You don't get this chaos in the other countries of the United Kingdom.
"And does the government really believe that somehow Covid in England is different than the other countries of the UK?
"I find the government's recklessness in this regard, both with educational professionals' health, but also with community health, and the questions increasingly around children's health, inexplicable."
The calls for closure to schools in England comes after Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced primary schools in high-risk areas would remain closed for most pupils for two weeks.
The Department for Education released a list of 50 education authorities in the south of England - 22 of which were in London boroughs - where primary schools would be closed for two more weeks.
Williamson said: "Children's education and wellbeing remains a national priority. Moving further parts of London to remote education really is a last resort and a temporary solution.
"As infection rates rise across the country, and particularly in London, we must make this move to protect our country and the NHS.
"We will continue to keep the list of local authorities under review, and reopen classrooms as soon as we possibly can."
Dr Bousted told The Telegraph that what is happening in London should be happening everywhere in England.
She said: "The question has to be asked: why are education ministers so inadequate and inept? Who is advising them?
"And what is right for London is right for the rest of the country.
"With the highest level of Covid infection and hospitals buckling under the tsunami of very ill patients, it is time for ministers to do their duty - to protect the NHS by following SAGE advice and close all primary and secondary schools to reduce the R rate below one."
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